Confessions

St. Augustine, trans. Henry Chadwick

Oxford University, 1992

p. 3

A middle-aged Augustine introduces himself to fellow Christian believers by letting them overhear his extended prayer to God.  His confessions are sometimes in the form of praise: he confesses God’s greatness and goodness.  And sometimes he confesses his sins: of self-deception, lust, conformity to the evil of peers.  Sometimes Augustine sounds anxious, as if his prayer is intended as therapeutic self-examination.  Very often Augustine’s prayer exhibits real beauty.  So, at the outset, this: “Man, a little piece of your creation, desires to praise you, a human being ‘bearing his mortality with him’ (2 Cor. 4:10), carrying with him the witness of his sin and the witness that ‘you resist the proud’ (1 Pet. 5:5).  Nevertheless, to praise you is the desire of man, a little piece of your creation.”  Then comes one of the most famous sentences in all patristic literature: “You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”